Saturday, April 16, 2011

Digital Digest: Valley of the Dinosaurs - The Complete Series DVD Review

While you're working on finishing up your income tax returns that you could have done in January (but decided to procrastinate on doing), you should take a little time for yourself to sit back, relax, and enjoy your favorite TV series on DVD or on your favorite streaming media source... and before you do that, you should sit back and read this week's edition of Digital Digest, our weekly feature about all things digital in the sitcom world! This week, we are back with a healthier than usual stream of news, along with a review of Valley of the Dinosaurs - The Complete Series. So keep reading so that you can relieve yourself from the stress of the so-called 1040-EZ!


DIGITAL NEWS

Hey Mr. Wilson! America's original bad boy of television (well, he wasn't all that bad) is headed back to DVD yet again with Dennis the Menace - Season 2. Look for the second season on July 26 at a $29.93 MSRP. Will the set contain the nice special features like the first season contained? We have no clue right now, but we sure hope so, and we'll let you know as soon as we know.

It wasn't that long ago that we accepted it as a foregone conclusion that Boy Meets World was abandoned on DVD, but that has become pretty far from the truth lately as Lionsgate has acquired the series and been releasing it at a steady pace. And now, as we are waiting for the upcoming release of Boy Meets World - The Complete Fifth Season in just a few weeks, news comes that Boy Meets World - The Complete Sixth Season isn't far behind. The set hits the street on July 5 at $29.97 MSRP. It isn't available for pre-order just yet, but fans are sure to appreciate this fast pace!

As if that isn't good enough, another series that Lionsgate has sublicensed from ABC is coming out on the same day. Look for According to Jim - The Complete Fourth Season on July 5, also at a $29.98 MSRP. It isn't available for pre-order yet either.

Can't get enough from Lionsgate on July 5? Well, yes, there is more! The PJs - Season 2 (again, from the ABC Studios library) is also coming out on the same date, at a $19.98 MSRP. As was the case for the other series from Lionsgate for July 5, it isn't available for pre-order yet either.

Dude! You're finally coming to DVD... well, Hey Dude is, anyway! Hey Dude - Season 1, the very first season of the popular Nickelodeon series from two decades ago, is finally leaving the ranch to make it to your DVD player on July 19. The set comes at a $19.93 MSRP from Shout! Factory.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (April 19) brings us the sixth (and final) seasons of two very different series from very different eras with one common theme: family. From Warner Home Video, we have The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Sixth Season, and from Shout! Factory, we have Father Knows Best - Season Six. And if you prefer to see your families drawn out in animated form, there is also American Dad! - Volume 6 from Fox on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we don't have reviews for these sets just yet (they are all still in transit, but they're coming), but we'll have reviews for them as soon as we can on our Main DVD Reviews Page.


BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

Warner Archive has been bringing us a ton of obscure Hanna-Barbera series over the past few months (including many series even the most hardcore of fans have never heard of), and now, they bring us a series about a science teacher and his family going on a journey into a lost land where they uncover pre-historic life. It's a little bit of Land of the Lost combined with the characteristic animation of Hanna-Barbera. In a series that only the 1970s could bring you, check out our review of Valley of the Dinosaurs - The Complete Series.

DVD Review: Valley of the Dinosaurs: The Complete Series
by Greg Brobeck

Valley of the Dinosaurs: The Complete Series (Warner Archive, $29.95) is stomping its way onto DVD! It's time for another review from the cool Warner Archive. Warner Bros. seems to be intent on releasing every single show from the Hanna Barbera archive, even those that aren't well remembered or well liked. Not to say that there is not someone out there that likes some of these shows, but some of them make you really wonder if they're worth a DVD release, especially since this was a time that Hanna Barbera was essentially a cartoon factory--churning out low quality series after low quality series.

Today's review is Valley of the Dinosaurs: The Complete Series. The series' initial run was in fall of 1974 on CBS. Reruns aired until fall of 1976. The show centers on American science teacher John Butler and his family (wife Kim, children Katie and Greg) along with their dog Digger, who get caught in a whirlpool while on a rafting trip on the Amazon. When they surface in an underground cavern, they're suddenly in a prehistoric world with cavemen and dinosaurs (despite the fact that modern science suggests that cavemen and dinosaurs did not coexist). The modern-day family is taken in by a family of cave-people and the show follows their struggle to survive and return home. If the basic premise sounds familiar, you're not crazy. The plot is very similar to the live-action kids show Land of the Lost, which oddly premiered the same day on NBC. That series, however, was much more successful.

A typical episode plot, taken from the first episode "Forbidden Fruit," the Butlers are picking fruit, only to be told by leader of the cavemen Gorak that the fruit is reserved for Brontosauruses. One of the menacing dinosaurs shows up to claim the fruit, so they all abandon it... except for young son Greg who sneaks some back to the cave. The Brontosaurus smells the fruit, follows the scent to the cave, and puts everyone's lives in danger. More often than not, the stories revolved around the Butlers not understanding the culture or running from various types of dinosaurs.
As with many 1970's era Hanna-Barbera shows, only 16 episodes were produced. Other shows of that length from the Warner Archive were four-disc sets. Somehow Warner managed to get this set on two discs, cramming eight episodes on to each disc:

Disc 1:
1. Forbidden Fruit (21:39)
2. What Goes Up (21:38)
3. A Turned Turtle (21:28)
4. Smoke Screen (21:33)
5. The Volcano (21:32)
6. Pteradon (21:19)
7. Sabertooth Kids (21:33)
8. After Shock (21:39)

Disc 2:
9. Top Cave Please (21:29)
10. S.O.S. (21:20)
11. Fire! (21:29)
12. Rain of Meteors (21:18)
13. To Fly a Kite (21:32)
14. Test Flight (21:32)
15. The Big Toothache (21:30)
16. Torch (21:34)

Like previous sets from Warner Archive, the discs are in a clear multi-disc Amaray case. A moving page holds disc one, while disc two is attached to the back of the case. The clear cases Warner sometimes uses are of thinner and cheaper material than the black cases, but these seem to be the only ones that will hold four discs. The black version is what is usually used for two-disc cases. Not sure why they didn't go that route this time. The front cover has the show's logo along with a shot of some of the characters, you guessed it, running from a dinosaur. Disc artwork has the show's logo and one of the caveman characters, along with a listing of which episodes are on which disc.

Again, we actually have main menus on the disc that have a design. We have basically the same design from the disc artwork (one of the cavemen along with the show's logo) and the option to Play All or choose one of the eight episodes by number. It's a little frustrating to not have an episode title list on the menu, especially since the list on the discs are just titles and no numbers. If you forget which one you wanted to watch, you either have to eject the disc (and count to figure out which number to choose) or look up an episode guide online. There are no closed captions or subtitles.
Breaking from earlier sets which had seemingly random chapter marks, this one has none at all! Hitting the next button on your remote simply takes you to the next episode. Chapter marks should have been at commercial breaks.

Video and audio quality are actually pretty good. This surprises me considering how many episodes are crammed on each disc. This is an MOD set, so no remastering work was done, but the video is relatively crisp, though a little blurry and grainy at times. Audio is actually surprisingly clear. Sound effects and music come through like crystal.

Again, no special features from Warner Archive. None of the Hanna-Barbera sets released through the Warner Archive have had any, so this should come as no surprise. What can they possibly put anyway? Just be happy the episodes are being released even!

Overall, Valley of the Dinosaurs isn't one of Hanna-Barbera's worst shows, but isn't one of the best either. I somewhat enjoyed the handful of episodes I watched. The plots were at least easy to follow and made sense. The show may immediately feel like a copy of the more successful Land of the Lost, but they both premiered on the same day. It's hard to say if one copied the other, but both shows had lengthy lead-times... Valley because it was an animated show and Land because of the costumes and campy special effects. Nonetheless, if you're a Hanna-Barbera completest, I can recommend picking up the set. If not, you might be better off skipping it and waiting for reruns to cycle around on Boomerang, which they frequently do.


(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Warner Archive

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Main DVD Reviews Page
Valley of the Dinosaurs TV.com page


LOOKING AHEAD

That's all for this week's edition of Digital Digest. We've got even more Hanna-Barbera reviews coming up for you in the upcoming weeks, as well as South Park - The Complete Fourteenth Season and more. Until then, keep it digital!


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November)

Dr. Ken - Season One Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season The Lucy Show - The Complete Series The Mindy Project - Season Four

10/04 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Christmas Special (Colorized)
10/04 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #1 (Colorized)
10/11 - Dr. Ken - Season One
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Sixth and Final Season
10/11 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Series
10/11 - Nurse Jackie - Seasons One and Two
10/11 - Weeds - Seasons One and Two
11/01 - Schitt's Creek - Seasons One and Two
11/08 - Family Matters - The Complete Ninth Season
11/08 - Your Family or Mine - Season One
11/15 - Community - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Lucy Show - The Complete Series
11/15 - The Mindy Project - Season Four
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, December 9

Last Man Standing - "Help Wanted" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Since losing her teaching job, Vanessa has been spending her time hovering over the family, and it’s driving everyone nuts. Over at Kristin and Ryan’s house, Ryan and Kyle are wrapped-up in a zombie face-off to determine who knows the most about zombies and how to survive an apocalypse. Unable to land a new gig, Vanessa becomes discouraged, but Mike does everything he can to get her back doing what she loves.

Dr. Ken - "Ken's Apology" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Ken wants to apologize to a patient for missing an important medical detail, Pat advises against it, and the situation gets out of hand. Meanwhile, D.K. shakes things up at Dave’s parent/teacher conference.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 5)

Friday, December 9

  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Watch Olivia on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tom Papa (Come to Papa) - Tom is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) - Bella is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Crazy Ones) - Sarah whips up a delicious treat on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Richard Kind (Spin City/Mad About You) - Richard is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends) - Jennifer appears on Chelsea on Netflix.